Demo - Studio Sessions

Table of Contents


April 1972 - June 1972

There is no doubt that 1972 was a massive songwriting period for Bruce. Although some have their genesis in 1971, Springsteen wrote most of the below-mentioned songs during 1972, prior to the January 1973 release of his debut album. The vast majority of the known recordings were made during a three-four month period, from May thru August 1972. However, a few were recorded shortly beforehand and several weren't recorded until early 1973. All but one feature Springsteen completely solo, on either acoustic guitar or keyboards. The one exception features an added, but barely discernible, bass guitar. From this large pool of recordings Appel-Cretecos selected and distributed some of them during 1973-74 - most notably to the UK – European based publisher Intersong Music Ltd. Some recordings were distributed on tape, others on acetates. Most of these acetates were manufactured at Media Sound in New York City and Angel Sound in Bedford, MA. However (and this has been the source of much confusion over the years) Springsteen did NOT record at either of these locations. Intersong also pressed its own acetates for distribution within the industry. This audio gradually filtered into collector circles in the late 1970s, often under the misnomer “the London Publishing Demos”.

The audio that has circulated to date was recorded at either: a) CBS Studios, b) Mediasound Studios at West 57th Street, New York City, c) 914 Sound Studios or d) Jim Cretecos’ apartment (not sure about this location - stories contradict each other). Interestingly neither the material recorded at CBS Studios (the so-called “Hammond tapes”) nor the material recorded in Jim Cretecos’ apartment (the so-called “Cretecos Tapes”) was ever sent to publishers. The Hammond tapes leaked out into collector circles hands in the 1970s via other sources. The Cretecos apartment tapes never circulated until the early 1990s, when Jimmy Cretecos sold his private audio collection (which also included recordings from both Mediasound Studios and 914 Sound Studios) to a third party – and it was this third party (JEC Music USA) that attempted to claim copyright of the material and to release it commercially. Springsteen took the matter to court in both the UK and USA – litigation that, all totalled, spanned nearly 7 years (1994 – 2001). In the end Bruce won both the UK and USA cases convincingly – however not before much of the material had leaked out on various unauthorized and/or bootleg CD releases.

Although the general time frame and sequencing of these 1972 demo-recording sessions has become clearer, much of the finer details (i.e., exact locations, dates and times for each recording) remain unclear. The full scope of Springsteen’s songwriting catalog that was actually committed to audio tape by Bruce during this period remains a mystery. As can be seen below, nearly half of the songs that Springsteen is believed to have written have yet to surface in any audio form.



BABY DOLL - V1 uncirculating
BABY DOLL - V2 5:00 BTF / EY

Note: written in September - October 1971, a moving story about a blind girl who “dances to a silent band“. According to Bruce and Mike Appel, it was performed by Bruce (on piano) to Mike at their first-ever meeting at Mike's employer, Pocketful of Tunes, 39 West 55th Street, New York, NY, on November 4, 1971 (not recorded). V2 is on acoustic guitar, recorded at Jim Cretecos’ apartment in New York City in April 1972. Differing accounts report it was recorded at the offices of Laurel Canyon Music, 75 East 55th Street, Suite 706, New York, NY, in mid May-June 1972.


Note: Recorded at Jim Cretecos’ apartment in New York City in April, 1972.


Note: Recorded at Mediasound Studios in April-May, 1972

CHEROKEE QUEEN uncirculating

Note: Written in mid-1971, sometimes titled "Daddy, Sing Me A Cradle Song". This is unquestionably one of Bruce’s most commercial-sounding pre-CBS creations. There's only one documented live performance known, from a show in Richmond in March 1972 – fortunately audio from that gig is circulating. Appel/Cretecos pressed this live performance of "Cherokee Queen" on acetate in 1972. Mike Appel clearly liked this tune because when he settled his litigation in 1977, "Cherokee Queen" was one of a dozen then-unreleased Springsteen songs that Appel retained part ownership of, although he sold it back to Bruce in 1983.


Note: Probably started writing in early 1971, song developments over next year not known . Also known by the title "Grandpa's Gone Down", it is about the death of Springsteen's grandfather. Documentation exists, as well as audio from a gig at Richmond's Back Door club on February 25, 1972. Song listed as "Down To The Riverside" on a handwritten setlist that dates from the period around October 1971 - February 1972. Not played again after April 1972.

FAMILY SONG - V2 5:03 BTF / UNE / PS / EY / MT1 / EDR

Note: "Family Song", also known by early titles, "California" and "California, You’re A Woman". Both V1 and V2 were recorded at Mike Appel's office at Pocketful of Tunes, 39 West 55th Street, New York, New York, in early March 1972 (reported dates of April-June 1972 are dated after Appel quit this job, and set up his own office). The V1 take (which is definitely from Pocketful Studios, as the control room engineer is heard giving Bruce a directive to begin) is delivered at a slower pace and is slightly off-key. V2 is likely a second take, and is the superior performance. Both recordings were produced by Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos, and Cretecos was also the recording engineer. According to a Springsteen lyric sheet, the song's title is "California". However, the song was copyrighted in 1995 by JEC Music USA under the title "Family Song", and in 1999 by Bruce Springsteen (after winning lawsuit) under the title "Family Song". One account says it was written in January 1972 during Springsteen’s month long stay in San Mateo, California visiting his parents; though not verified, it is plausible and worth mentioning.


Note: "Henry Boy" was recorded as a demo at MediaSound Studios, 311 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019 in June 1972. It has been described as an "early version of what would evolve into 'Blinded By The Light'", which would explain why it vanished after being played live in August 1972, while 'Blinded By the Light' was composed and recorded in record time on September 11, 1972, then released on 'Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey', and became the first single from the album. 'Henry Boy' was officially released on September 23, 2016 in the album "Chapter and Verse", the companion to Springsteen's autobiography "Born To Run". It was dated only as "June 1972" in the liner notes, suggesting the studio logs from the time are not complete, which is a well known fact. Possibly of greater interest are the live shows in August 1972 described below. These shows were performed just after Bruce thought he was done recording 'Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey', only to be informed by Clive Davis, president of Columbia Records, that the album submitted was not acceptable to Columbia, mainly because there was no "single material" that could be released to generate radio airplay. As he recounted in "Songs", Bruce took this to heart, and without delay, composed "Spirit In the Night" and "Blinded By the Light", recording both on September 11, 1972, much to the satisfaction of his record label, who were pleased with the songs, and even more by their new artists' response to their implied request. Unnoticed was "Henry Boy", which garnered respectable attention during the August Max's Kansas City residency, but was never played again. Perhaps Bruce used most of the song in creating 'Blinded By the Light', just like he did with 'Walking In the Street' when creating 'Thunder Road'.

A video of "Henry Boy", filmed in August 1972 at Max’s Kansas City, is in circulation. Springsteen introduces the song as, "a song about being new in town. Now everybody's been new in town, once, or twice. And uh… that's what this next song's about, I think." Very brief audio-video excerpts of both "Henry Boy" and "Growin' Up" from one of the twelve shows during this August 1972 Max's residency first surfaced in a 1990 documentary about John Hammond called From Bessie Smith To Bruce Springsteen. The complete audio-video of both songs has since leaked out and is circulating among collectors. These complete takes represent what was originally supplied to the Hammond film producers by CBS. The producers were only allowed to use brief excerpts of the two songs in the documentary and were not supplied any footage of the rest of the show. The remainder of the show (probably only a couple of songs, for a total of around thirty minutes) exists in CBS's vault but has never circulated. Definitely one, probably two, and possibly several of Bruce's shows during this residency were audio and video recorded in their entirety, utilizing Max's (crude by today's standards) in-house video camera. It is believed the recording was carried out at the behest of Columbia, who wanted footage of Bruce for potential promotional use.

Please check the Brucebase live accounts from August 10, 1972 and August 14, 1972, for information on "Henry Boy", and the film work done at Max's Kansas City in New York. Be sure to click on the "Recording" tab on each gig page for important additional information.

HOLLYWOOD KIDS - V1 uncirculating

Note: First recorded at Pocketful of Tunes, 39 West 55th Street, New York, NY on February 14, 1972. V2 recorded at Jim Cretecos’ apartment in New York City in April, 1972.

I'VE GOT TO HAVE YOU BABY - V1 uncirculating

Note: "I've Got To Have You Baby" was recorded by a group fronted by the same Jimmy Jones who had the hit, "Handy Man" in 1960, which was later covered successfully by James Taylor. Back in 1956, the "Savoys" were signed to a contract by George Goldner, owner of Rama records. However, their former manager refused to release their band name, so they took the name "the Pretenders", from the Platters' "The Great Pretender", one of the biggest hits of that year. On May 2, 1956, they recorded "I've Got To Have You Baby", in an all night session. It was released on RAMA 198 before the end of May, but went nowhere on the Billboard Pop and R & B charts. In late 1957, Jones, who wrote most of the Pretenders' material, teamed up with with veteran songwriter/producer Otis Blackwell, who was also a talented whistler, to record "The Whistlin' Man", with the Pretenders' backing track, that would be heard again in June 1959, when Jones cut a demo of "Handy Man". He was joined by his partner Blackwell's whistling, Charles Merenstein with new lyrics, and Moe Gale, who's Shalimar Music sold the demo to M-G-M Records, which released it on it's Cub subsidiary in September. It catapulted to #2 on The Billboard charts and had a run of eighteen weeks, finishing as the 25th highest ranked record of 1960. His follow-up on Cub was "Good Timin'," backed with "My Precious Angel" (two more masters purchased from Shalimar Music) which did almost as well (#3 and fifteen weeks on the charts), the no. 30 record of 1960. V2 is from the second reel of the rehearsal sessions, recorded on March 14, 1972 at Challenger Eastern Surfboards, Highlands, NJ. Thank the Almighty Lord for using his powers to protect this wonderful sound for a half-century, so us humble humans can still enjoy it. This song is a rarity, but Bruce got his hands on a vinyl cutout with the RAMA label's masters on it, that goes in and out of circulation. If Jimmy Jones heard this cover of his song before he passed away in 2012, he would have been happy.

IF I WAS THE PRIEST - V1 uncirculating
IF I WAS THE PRIEST - V3 uncirculating

Note: V1 recorded at Pocketful of Tunes, 39 West 55th Street, New York, NY on February 14, 1972. V2 recorded at Mike Appel’s office, Laurel Canyon, 75 East 55th Street, Suite 706, New York, NY during April, 1972. V3 was performed at John Hammond's office at "the Black Rock" aka CBS Records, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, NY on May 2, 1972. V4 recorded at the John Hammond audition at Studio E Columbia Records, 6th floor, 49 East 52nd Street, New York City on May 3, 1972. V5 recorded at Mediasound Studios, 311 West 57th Street, New York, NY during May-July, 1972, a solo acoustic number. It was never recorded at the Greetings sessions. According to comments by Bruce this was written in late 1970 or early 1971. Performed live at The Student Prince in the fall of 1971.

JESSE 3:05 BTF / UNE / PS / EY

Note: Likely recorded at Jim Cretecos’ apartment in New York City in April 1972, although this is possibly from Pocketful Of Tunes Studios in May-June.

MARIE 4:44 BTF / UNE / PS / EY / MT1 / VAFH / MPD

Note: Recorded at Mediasound Studios, New York, NY in April-May, 1972.

MAGIC KIND OF LOVING uncirculating

Note: Written in mid to late 1971 and performed into early 1972. Several live performances are in circulation. Also known by the title "Magic Loving".

MAKE UP YOUR MIND uncirculating

Note: Written in mid to late 1971 and performed into early 1972. Also known by the title "Make Your Mind Up". This is one of Bruce's most powerful pre-CBS era creations. A live performance from Richmond's Backdoor Club circulates.

NO NEED - V1 uncirculating
NO NEED - V2 6:18 US4 / MT1 / VAFH / MPD / EDR

Note: V1 recorded at Pocketful of Tunes, 39 West 55th Street, New York, NY on February 14, 1972. V2 likely recorded at Mediasound Studios, New York in June/July of 1972. Bruce on piano. This is one of the masters purchased by JEC Music USA, registered by them at the Library Of Congress, but never issued on any of JEC’s associated CD releases (Prodigal Son – Unearthed - Before The Fame). Collectors will have to make do with the same (but lesser sound quality) recording found on US4.


Note: Likely recorded at Jim Cretecos’ apartment in New York City in April, 1972. One of Bruce’s major works from the period.

RANDOLPH STREET (Master Of Electricity) 3:52 BTF / UNE / PS / EY / MT1 / EDR

Note: Recorded at Jim Cretecos’ apartment in New York City in April of 1972. Written in 1971, maybe even earlier. About as autobiographical as anything Bruce has ever written.

SHE'S LEAVING - V1 2:45 US4 / DT / EDR
SHE'S LEAVING - V2 5:10 US4 / EY / EDR

Note: V1 and V2 both recorded at Mediasound Studios in May-June, 1972. V1 is an abandoned (incomplete) take, with Bruce forgetting the words. V2 is complete. Written in 1971 and performed with The Bruce Springsteen Band in late 1971 and early 1972. A full band live performance from late 1971 is circulating.


Note: Written as "It's A Southern Sun That Shines Down On This Yankee Boy" in late 1971-early 1972. V1 was recorded at Columbia Studios, Studio E, New York, NY on May 3, 1972. V2 recorded at Mediasound Studios, 311 West 57th Street, New York, NY in May-June, 1972. Original Sioux City Music documentation has the song titled as “Southern Sun”, but it was copyrighted under the incorrect title "Southern Son" in 1995 by JEC Music USA, who had purchased it from Jimmy Creticos. Springsteen subsequently registered it as "Southern SUN" in 1999, after winning a lawsuit in British court against JEC. Springsteen had clearly written "sun" on a handwritten setlist from the period, and the lyrics of "It's A Southern Sun That Shines Down On This Yankee Boy" clearly indicate it should be "Sun". Became well known by US 10-inch Acetate titled "Southern Son", with "Associated Recording Studios" on the label, typewritten song title and a handwritten "Sioux City Music Ltd." remark.

THE WORD - V1 3:44 DT / EY / LCD / EDR
THE SONG - V2 - take 1 private cdr

Note: Recorded at Mediasound Studios, New York in May-June, 1972. Historically this has been listed under the title "The Word" or "I Heard The Word". However a perfect sound quality tape of this performance exists in limited collector circles and it includes the previously unheard introduction ("The Song, take 1") – indicating the correct title is "The Song". However, "I Heard The Word" can be found on a list of possible album tracks, dated around August 1972.

WAR NURSE 2:05 BTF / UNE / PS / EY / MT1 / EDR

Note: Likely Recorded at Jim Cretecos’ apartment in New York City in April, 1972.

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